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Eva Alordiah

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Michael Jackson and VITILIGO

  • 6/28/2009
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Vitiligo is a chronic relatively common disorder that causes depigmentation in patches of skin. It occurs when the melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation which are derived from the neural crest, die or are unable to function. The precise pathogenesis, or cause, of vitiligo is complex and not yet fully understood. There is some evidence suggesting it is caused by a combination of autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors.

In 1986 Michael Jackson was diagnosed with Vitiligo and Lupus. Lupus is an auto-immune and inflammatory disease which attacks healthy cells, tissues and organs and can be fatal. In the 1993 Oprah Winfrey interview with Jackson he finally admitted to having this illness to debunk the ‘skin bleaching’ rumors.

Vitiligo is associated with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases like Lupus and Addison’s. Lupus can cause inflammation of the heart, lungs, joints and many, like Jackson, experience pneumonia and cardiac manifestations and anemia. Extreme fatigue and joint pain are common with Lupus. Although it seemed odd years ago, Michael wearing a mask was wise. He can into contact with millions of people, each one a risk to his health when living with Lupus.

Notice the patches on his skin?

There is no cure for Vitiligo, nor is there a cure for Lupus.
Treatments for Vitiligo include a topical steroid cream (mild topical corticosteroid cream). Corticosteroids are a group of drugs similar to hormones such as cortisone and are often used to treat Lupus patients. Ultraviolet therapy and photochemotherapy may be use to help darken the patches, although this may increase skin cancer risk, burning or blistering. Vitiligo patients with over 50% of their body may opt for depigmentation, to match the already depigmented areas.
A few famous names you may recognize
Graham Norton has white patches in his hair as a result of vitiligo.

Doc Hammer, co-creator of the cartoon The Venture Bros. has vitiligo of the scalp, which causes his hair to grow in two different colors

Eduardo Panlilio, Governor of the province of Pampanga in the Philippines

Seal - Musician, A childhood battle with Discoid Lupus left him with facial scars and hair loss.

Ferdinand Marcos - The former president of the Philippines died in exile of Lupus complications in 1986

Michael Wayne - The son of legendary actor John Wayne, actor/producer Michael Wayne died of Lupus complications in 2003

Louisa May Alcott - Author of classics such as Little Women is believed to have had Lupus.

Vitiligo and Lupus can seriously affect a person’s self esteem. Being in the spotlight with only one of these would be very difficult, but for Jackson having both an internal and external disease and being such high profile while entertaining the world is miraculous.

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Eva Alordiah
Lagos, Nigeria